How-to: Set up Google Apps for your domain.

Posted on April 5, 2012 by Jimmy K. in Articles, Resources, Tutorials.

Step 1: Sign up for Google Apps.


By signing up for the free version of Google Apps, you are allowed to create up to 10 accounts without paying anything. Ignore the shouts for the $5 Google Apps Business plan – we just want the free stuff. Here is the link for the free version of Google Apps.

Step 2: Configure Google Apps using the setup wizard.


You’ll need to configure Google Apps using the setup wizard before you can use your new products. You’ll be asked a series of basic questions such as the name of your domain, which products you want to activate, which users you would like to add, etc. You’ll also need to verify that you’re the owner of your domain. I chose to upload an HTML file to my web server because it was the fastest and easiest method.

Step 3: Update the MX records for your domain.


During the setup process, Google will ask you to update your domain’s MX (Mail Exchanger) records. You can do this by logging into your registrar’s website (where you bought the domain), navigating to the DNS settings, and updating the appropriate records. I use GoDaddy as my registrar and I found it easiest to delete the MX records that were there and then add new ones using the values Google provided.

Fun Fact: “Priority” is the position in which each record should be tried when sending email. When someone sends you an email the records with the lowest values will be tried first. Typically these go: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50; but I just used all zeros because I’m confident with Google’s servers.

Step 4: Update the CNAME records for your domain.


During the setup process, Google will also ask you to add CNAME (Alias) records to your DNS settings. CNAME records are basically pointers for subdomains and are typically used to point a subdomain like “” to the same server as your domain, “”, but can be configured to point somewhere else.

Google encourages you to add CNAME records to point subdomains like “”, “”, and “” to your new external Google’s products, respectively. So instead of having to type “” to get to your products, you can simply type “” to get to your mail, or “” to get to your calendar. This process is entirely optional, but will definitely save keystrokes later. (It’s also easier to remember.)

Google Apps and Google+

If you already use Google products with one or more of the email addresses you’re transferring to Google Apps, you may experience unexpected side effects.

For example, I had a Google+ account with “” as the login. When I signed up for Google Apps I transferred all email accounts for my domain to Google Apps. As a result of the transfer, Google automatically changed my “” login for that account to “” because no two Google accounts can have the same login. I was prompted to merge my Personal Account with my new Google Apps Organizational Account, only to discover that not all of the products and data from my Personal Account made it into my Organization Account; most notably, Google+.

My entire Google+ profile – including posts, friends, and circles – was now stuck on an “” account. Seriously? … Yes. I could find no way around it and finally, admitting defeat, deleted my Google+ profile and started over using my Organization Account information.

Google is a huge organization and it’s products are always changing, so just make sure you read the entire page before you click anything. :)


Jimmy K. is a Chicago-based web developer who actively posts tutorials, articles and insights on his web development blog to help other programmers and developers.

You can find Jimmy on Google+ and Twitter.


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